When COVID-19 upended normal operations at STRIVE, a workforce development nonprofit founded in New York, the Center for Applied Behavioral Science at MDRC documented the agency’s real-time innovations that allowed it to continue serving clients during the crisis. Greg Wise, STRIVE’s National Vice President, shared a first-hand account of the transition.
Meeting the Needs of Workers and Employers
Low-wage workers have been hit particularly hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, experiencing greater levels of unemployment than their higher-wage-earning peers. Training programs that focus on moving workers into skilled jobs in industries with strong local demand could reposition them for 21st-century success.
A Synthesis of Findings on Sector Strategies
Job seekers with low incomes face numerous hurdles to finding and keeping high-quality jobs. Sector strategies address those hurdles by matching job seekers with skills training for specific industries or occupations where there is a growing demand. This review examines a cross-section of strategies, highlighting successes and areas for improvement.
An Interview with Karen Pennington and Dawn Slinkard
Tulsa Community WorkAdvance is a sector-based training and career advancement program that prepares people for jobs in the health care field. Executive Director Karen Pennington talks about the impact of COVID-19 on operations and future opportunities in health care, and graduate Dawn Slinkard describes her experience in the program.
Next Steps for Research
The paper summarizes past and ongoing research, identifies gaps in knowledge, and presents four categories of potential questions to help define future research in employment and training programs serving low-income people.
Costs, Benefits, and Impacts from the WorkAdvance Demonstration
WorkAdvance goes beyond the previous generation of employment programs, concentrating on demand-driven skills training and identifiable career pathways. Findings show the approach increased earnings and led to advancement gains over time at the most successful study sites. One program, Per Scholas, boosted earnings by 20 percent in the last year of follow-up.
The Breaking Barriers program, based in San Diego, provided employment services to lower-income individuals with disabilities. MDRC carried out a random assignment evaluation of the program. As part of the Building Evidence on Employment Strategies for Low-income Families project, MDRC is collecting additional administrative records to extend the original evaluation.
Lessons from an In-Depth Data Analysis
Both Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) may serve low-income individuals with disabilities. This brief uses MDRC’s analysis of merged national-level TANF and SSI data — two rich data sources that have never before been linked — to better understand the extent of the two programs’ overlap.
A Guide for TANF Staff Members
Both Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) may serve low-income individuals with disabilities. This brief compares the SSI disability determination process with TANF procedures, discusses how some TANF agencies gauge who is likely to qualify for SSI, and reviews the employment support programs of both.
Innovative Strategies for Serving TANF Recipients with Disabilities
Both Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) may serve low-income individuals with disabilities. Yet the two programs’ differences in approach and structure pose challenges to coordinating services. This report describes the implementation and findings of three promising pilot interventions intended to address that problem.